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Pulp mill project opposed by environmentalists, labor is postponed

January 20, 1997

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (AP) _ A proposed $1.1 billion wood pulp mill, delayed by court challenges from both environmentalists and labor groups, has been postponed indefinitely, its developers say.

The project at Apple Grove in western West Virginia was put off because world pulp market conditions, not the opposition, C. Kenneth Goddard, vice president of Parsons and Whittemore Inc. of Rye Brook, N.Y., told the Point Pleasant Register on Friday.

Parsons & Whittemore is the parent company of Apple Grove Pulp and Paper, which planned to build the mill on the shore of the Ohio River.

Pulp mill production capability worldwide has skyrocketed, said Evadna Lynn, a pulp industry analyst for Dean Witter Reynolds in New York. Production costs in some countries are about $100 a ton less than in the United States.

Labor groups opposed the plant because the company didn’t plan to use West Virginia union construction workers.

Environmental opposition centered on fears of air and water pollution, especially from dioxins, a carcinogenic byproduct of the paper-bleaching process proposed for use at the plant.

A judge in October invalidated the company’s water pollution permit because the state failed to determine dioxin levels in the Ohio River. Opponents contend the river already has more dioxin than allowed by state and federal law.

``They didn’t expect West Virginia to put up a fight,″ Laura Forman, an organizer at the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in Huntington, said today. ``They just expected us to roll over.″

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